Liverpool Need A Number 10 To Help Suarez Shine

A strong performance but a lack of goals against Fulham highlighted an all too common problem for the reds this season, proving that Dalglish must strengthen with a foil for his little Uruguayan in January...
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A strong performance but a lack of goals against Fulham highlighted an all too common problem for the reds this season, proving that Dalglish must strengthen with a foil for his little Uruguayan in January...
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With the benefit of a day to let the disappointment dissipate, the positives of Liverpool's loss to Fulham far outweigh the negatives. Yes, an unbeaten run was lost, but the identity that has been slowly crafted since Kenny and Steve Clarke started conducting training ground affairs was again to the fore as it had been in the two defeats of Chelsea and the draw to Manchester City.

And what an identity it is. Dogged determination bordering on naked aggression, a team spirit that runs through every player, quick one and two touch passing and raid after raid on the opposition goal. The message is one as clear as it was under Shankly. We are Liverpool Football Club, and we will be in your faces from the off, we will ask for no quarter, neither give one, and we will be at you until the whistle blows.

The negatives, of course, are a recurring theme. And that is we have a ridiculous amount of possession and struggle to score. I started the season wondering whether Andy Carroll was off the pace, I now wonder if he has the extra yard to get back, or even if the ankle injury he suffered while at Newcastle robbed him of it before he'd donned the red shirt for the first time.

But this is not an article that wants to blame Carroll for our failures in front of goal, he hasn't figured that much for a start and in reality, it's not his fault if he can't play in a system. I'm not having a pop at Kenny, either, I like the system and football we play, I just don't think Carroll can play in it. What was worrying is that, for large parts of the game, he was dominated by Hanegland and Senderos, two defenders who Carroll should relish a physical battle against.

Suarez is a fine player, beloved by every fan, but he is 100 miles an hour, twisting turning, nutmegging as he does. What is required is what the Italians call a trequartista and we call a number 10, or a schemer.

In fact I don't think this profligacy is the fault of anyone player, it is what we are missing that counts. Suarez is a fine player, beloved by every fan, but he is 100 miles an hour, twisting turning, nutmegging as he does. What is required is what the Italians call a trequartista and we call a number 10, or a schemer. Someone who is languid in possession but possesses the speed of thought when defenders swarm around, someone who can dictate play from the central area, slow things down and be a beacon of calm as those around batter the opposition goal.

The signing of the season for me so far has been Juan Mata, excellent in Chelsea's last two games, his movement and early and incisive first time passing coupled with his vision have reinvigorated both Chelsea and Drogba. His presence allows Drogba to play on the shoulder of the last man rather than dropping deep to pick up the ball as it enters the final third. Suarez can and does do this, but with Bellamy wide and Carroll through the centre, he struggles to move it on quickly.

I wrote in the summer about the merits of Xherdan Shaqiri, who played a large part in putting Manchester United out last night, and also Erik Lamela, a prodigy from River Plate who my brother alerted me to when he was living in Buenos Aires. Watching Shaqiri last night, I'm now not sure he would be the right choice. Don't get me wrong, he's tremendous, but I think we need an experienced 25-27 year old number 10, with European and international experience who can slot straight in, assess his role in between Adam and Gerrard/Spearing/ Lucas and conduct.

Before anyone says Joe Cole, I'll stop you. Cole has a lot of merits, but he doesn't have the vision, it’s not about stopovers and slaloming runs, Suarez is far better at that, it's about the ability to knit together what we have and elevate it to another level.

Another option would be to bring in an out-and-out number 9 to play on the shoulder and let Suarez roam. Despite this brilliance, he has hardly been prolific but I don't point any blame in his direction, he's often double marked and singled out for special attention by opposing defences, and who can blame them? The reason he scores more for Uruguay is simple, the other team have Cavani and/or Forlan to worry about.

If we do sign a number nine, it needs to be a dead-eyed finisher who is lightning off the shoulder, think Cisse with brains and a first touch. I'd take either a 9 or a 10 to be honest, but I think we can all agree we are probably a player or two light this side of Christmas, and to have a good run afterwards we definitely need additions, especially if the FA are going to throw the book at Suarez.

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